The Best Way to do a Golden Gate Bridge Walk

Questions answered here:
How long does it take to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge?
How much does it cost to go across the Golden Gate Bridge?
When is the best time to go across the Golden Gate Bridge?
What is the best view from the Golden Gate Bridge?
Best place to Park for the Golden Gate Bridge?

So – you’ve decided to do a walk on the fabulous Golden Gate Bridge (or at least you are looking into doing the walk). Best views, where to park, what to wear. Before you head out there here is a quick set of things you should know.

Where is the Golden Gate Bridge? It is on the northern edge of San Francisco, west of Fisherman’ Wharf and the Marina District, right where the old Presidio Army Base is.

Map Golden Bridge

See detailed Interactive Printable Map of this walk on Google

Time/Length – From 20 minutes to one and a half hours – the bridge is 1.2 miles (2 km) all the way across – you can shorten it to any length you are comfortable with

Where to park for the Golden Gate Bridge
Parking is both convenient and sometimes difficult. I like driving across the bridge and parking in the view spot immediately on the other side. It has the plus of giving you two things with one parking place. But on busy days there can be a long wait in your car until a spot opens up. If that is too long you can go past the vista point and exit at the next exit.

Follow the signs to Fort baker and park there and walk back up to the bridge (note: it is a bit of a climb back up). Some of my friends like parking in the lot at the visitor’s center on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It does allow you the option of not having to drive your car across the bridge.

The views –

View from the Vista Point just north of Golden Gate Bridge

View from the Vista Point just north of Golden Gate Bridge

  • Except in heavy fog they are spectacular. (Remember you are on a bridge – hang onto your camera/phone, I can assure you many have gone ‘splashing.) You will always have the city view; the ocean side of the bridge is only for bikes – on weekends and after 3 pm weekdays bikes must use ocean side.
  • If you park and stay on the San Francisco end of the bridge (the south side), you will need to walk at least to the first tower to start getting a good angle to see ‘downtown San Francisco views. (But you will save the toll.)
  • Personally, I would dive across (which is cool by itself) and park in the Vista Point parking lot on the far side. Get this view….

How far to walk – really up to you. Some people what to have the full experience. I usually take my friends just to the first tower (from either end).

Why not go all the way across and back? Well, the bridge is also a freeway and it is noisy. It is often windy, often cold and sometimes foggy. On a stunning sunny day, you might want to do it. But then, your inner self is saying ‘don’t be a wuss, and do the whole bridge’. So, there is no wrong answer.

Sidewalk on the Golden Gate Bridge

Sidewalk on the Golden Gate Bridge

One more reason to drive across if you have a car – after you walk on the bridge and leave the parking lot you can exit the freeway immediately and drive into Sausalito. It actually has even better views of San Francisco and you can splurge at Scoma’s or The Trident. Decent food (mainly fish or seafood) high prices and on a sunny day the best views of your whole visit.

Bring a jacket. I don’t care how hot it is before you head to the bridge. Bring the jacket, 9 times out of 10 you will put it on.

Sunset and night are great too. You can drive across the bridge any time – the toll booths are closed you just drive through and they will bill you (or your rental car company) through your license plate, so don’t stop. Walking is limited mainly to pre-sunset hours.

Sunset on the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean beyond
Looking toward the Pacific Ocean at sunset.

From Marin Headlands to San Francisco at night

From Marin Headlands to San Francisco at night

Taken at night from the Marin headlands – if you have time to take a side trip these are truly the best views of the bridge and San Francisco.

Queen Mary and the Golden Gate Bridge